CLEVELAND » A DNA test confirmed another dark twist in the story of three women imprisoned in a house for about a decade: Kidnapping and rape suspect Ariel Castro is the father of a 6-year-old girl who escaped from the house along with the women, a prosecutor said today.
As the investigation into the women’s ordeal continued, the FBI also said no human remains were among more than 200 pieces of evidence collected from the house.
Two of the women returned to relatives’ houses earlier this week. The third woman, Michelle Knight, was released from a hospital today with a request that her privacy be respected.
"Michelle Knight is in good spirits and would like the community to know that she is extremely grateful for the outpouring of flowers and gifts," the statement said.
No information would be provided about Knight’s next steps, said MetroHealth Medical Center spokeswoman Phyllis Marino.
The man accused of holding the women captive, Ariel Castro, remained in jail under a suicide watch on $8 million bond while prosecutors weighed what charges they might bring against him, including the possibility of charges carrying a death penalty. He currently is charged with rape and kidnapping.
Castro was represented at Thursday’s hearing by public defender Kathleen Demetz, who said she is acting as Castro’s adviser if needed until he’s appointed a full-time attorney once he’s charged by a grand jury. She said today she can’t speak to his guilt or innocence and said only that she advised him not to give any media interviews that might jeopardize his case.
Family members have portrayed Castro as a "monster" who terrorized the mother of his children, frequently beating her, playing twisted psychological games and locking her indoors.
The stories, repeated in separate interviews by different members of Castro’s extended family, have surprised people who knew him as a musician who played bass in several bands around Cleveland the last two decades.
Miguel Quinones, manager of a group Castro played with twice as a backup bass player about five years ago, said Thursday he had nothing bad to say about Castro based on his own experiences.
A police report alleged that Castro impregnated one of his captives at least five times and made her miscarry by starving her and punching her in the stomach. The report also said another one of the women, Amanda Berry, was forced to give birth in a plastic kiddie pool.
Tests by the state attorney general’s office on a sample of Castro’s DNA confirmed that he is the father of Berry’s 6-year-old daughter, who was rescued from his house, the office said today. After her release, the girl returned home with Berry, 27. Officials also were entering the DNA profile into a national database to see if it links him to other crimes.
The three women said Castro chained them up in the basement but eventually let them live on the home’s second floor. Each woman told a similar story about being abducted after accepting a ride from him.
The FBI has not recovered human remains in its search of the house, spokeswoman Vicki Anderson said today. Agents removed more than 200 pieces of evidence, she added, declining to say what was found.
Berry and former captive Gina DeJesus, 22, went home with relatives Wednesday.
The AP does not usually name people alleging sexual assault without their consent, but the names of the three women were widely circulated by their families, the media and law enforcement for years.
A missing-person report on Knight filed one day after she disappeared in 2002 said without elaboration that she had a mental condition and was often confused about her surroundings.
Knight, now 32, was removed from a national missing persons database in 2003 after Cleveland police couldn’t locate anyone to confirm whether she was still missing, based on police policy in such cases, the department said today.
"Despite this, Cleveland police kept Michelle Knight’s missing person’s case open and checked on the case numerous times," the city said today. "Records indicated Cleveland police checked on the case as recently as November."
Associated Press writers Meghan Barr, Mike Householder, Thomas J. Sheeran, Andrew Welsh-Huggins and AP freelance writer John Coyne in Cleveland; Brendan Farrington in Florida; and Dan Sewell in Cincinnati contributed to this report along with news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York.